Sunday, October 18, 2015

Larger brains do not lead to high IQs

One has to laugh.  I have often noted that people reporting research results tend to conclude what they want to conclude rather than what the data concerned actually shows.  I had a lot of fun reporting such cases in my own years as an active researcher.  See here. The heading above, taken from MedicalXpress, is another case in point.

It is politically correct.  Leftists don't like to think that there is ANYTHING inborn or hard-wired in human beings.  And, as a consequence, many of them reject ANY physical basis for IQ. And the heading above is just such a rejection. One problem: The findings they were allegedly summarizing in fact showed a stable and statistically significant correlation between brain size and IQ!

So what is going on?  Before I comment further, I reproduce the underlying journal abstract.

Meta-Analysis of Associations Between Human Brain Volume And Intelligence Differences: How Strong Are They and What Do They Mean?

Jakob Pietschnig et al.


Positive associations between human intelligence and brain size have been suspected for more than 150 years. Nowadays, modern non-invasive measures of in vivo brain volume (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) make it possible to reliably assess associations with IQ. By means of a systematic review of published studies and unpublished results obtained by personal communications with researchers, we identified 88 studies examining effect sizes of 148 healthy and clinical mixed-sex samples (> 8,000 individuals). Our results showed significant positive associations of brain volume and IQ (r = .24, R² = .06) that generalize over age (children vs. adults), IQ domain (full-scale, performance, and verbal IQ), sample type (clinical vs. healthy sample), and sex. Application of a number of methods for detection of publication bias indicates that strong and positive correlation coefficients have been reported frequently in the literature whilst small and non-significant associations appear to have been often omitted from reports. We show that although the positive association of brain volume and IQ seems to be robust, its strength has been overestimated in the literature. While it is tempting to interpret this association in the context of human cognitive evolution and species differences in brain size and cognitive ability, we show that it is not warranted to interpret brain size as a necessary cause or isomorphic proxy of human intelligence differences.


Got that?  They found that there was an association between the two variables but it was weak.  In other words, brain size was only one of the factors influencing IQ -- a conclusion which would surprise no-one familiar with the field.  Cortical complexity would obviously be a much more major influence. And cortical size considered independently of overall brain volume would also be a very promising variable for study.

The correlation (.24) IS weaker than we would expect from prior studies of head size.  Head size normally correlates over .3 with IQ.  One of the authors of this study was however the ultra-cautious Dutch psychologist Jelke Wicherts.  You can't put anything past him!  So he has ensured extensive allowance for confounding factors etc. So the figure reported above might reasonably be treated as a lower bound.  ALL correlations seem to shrink and all IQs seem to rise when the distinguished Prof. Wicherts gets hold of them! Wicherts is an Associate Professor in Psychological Methods specializing in errors with statistics and the measurement of intelligence (IQ).

The much-published Jelte Wicherts

And as further context, let me note that in psychological research generally, a correlation of .24 would be greeted with frabjous joy. My recollection is that a majority of correlations in psychological research are around that magnitude.  To have detected ANY effect of one variable on another is normally felt worthy of congratulation. And I am not entirely being mocking in saying that.  Any item of human behaviour is bound to be multi-causal so any one influence on the behaviour concerned MUST usually be small.  The behaviour will be the product of many influences, not one.

A final note:  The heading of the MedicalXpress article is not the only bit of political correctness in it.  They also state that average male and female IQs are the same. The wicked Richard Lynn's very extensive study of the data showed that women are in fact down by a couple of points. 

That's not the important point about female IQ, however. The smaller variability (SD) of female IQ has long been known and is well-accepted.  And that restricts female achievement at the top of the range.  I had better not spell that out further in case I get prosecuted for hate speech.  You can get away with saying things in academic language that would land you in trouble if you said  them in plain English -- JR

Christians living in Sweden have been told to 'convert or die' in chilling messages across Gothenburg – a hotbed of ISIS recruitment

Christians living in Sweden have been warned to 'convert to Islam or die' in a string of threatening messages linked to the Islamic State.

Members of the Assyrian community are understood to have been targeted with sinister graffiti daubed on restaurants and businesses in Gothenburg – a hotbed for jihadist recruitment.

The messages bear all the hallmarks of the chilling psychological warfare employed by ISIS in the Middle East, but as yet Swedish police have been unable to track down those responsible.

Markus Samuelsson, one of 3,000 Assyrian Christians living in Gothenburg, said he found the walls of his restaurant covered with the messages 'convert or die' and 'the caliphate is here'.

The latter is a reference to the terror group's attempt to create a warped form of Islamic government which has seen it clamp down on religious freedoms with shocking brutality across Iraq and Syria.

Mr Samuelsson, who owns Le Pain Francois, told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter: 'I felt a sudden chill down my spine. It's terribly painful. We feel threatened.'

The same messages, along with the ISIS logo, were also painted on a neighbouring pizzeria, while other non-Assyrian-owned businesses were left unscathed, it was reported by Breitbart.

The warnings were also accompanied with the Arabic letter ن – a symbol which has been used ISIS in the Middle East to donate Christians.

It was painted on doors of Christian homes in Mosul, Iraq, to allow militants to identify and drive them out when they seized the city last year.

At least 150 jihadists – more than from the United States – are believed to have left Gothenburg to join ISIS, according to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

Meanwhile, terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp has called the city 'the Swedish Centre for Jihadists'.

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department released a report detailing how ISIS had spearheaded a campaign of attacks last year by militant extremist groups on religious freedom across the world.

In the territories of its would-be caliphate, it said ISIS militants have forced centuries-old Christian communities to convert, pay a ruinous tax or die, while kidnapping, selling and raping thousands of women and children on the basis for their faith.

Assyrians, who are indigenous to the Middle East, are one of the oldest branches of Christianity, dating back to 1AD.


City Made ‘Dangerous’ Admissions About Faith in the Workplace, Atlanta Fire Chief Lawyer Says

The city of Atlanta made “dangerous” admissions in a court hearing today, argued the lawyer for the former Atlanta fire chief who was terminated from his job after controversy related to a religious book he authored that included his views on homosexuality.

“[The city] actually argued that you’re entitled to have beliefs and opinions, but you have to keep them to yourself, inside the four walls of your house or your church—that you shouldn’t bring them out into the public, and you shouldn’t bring them out if you’re employed by a government agency,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel David Cortman told The Daily Signal.

Cortman is representing former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who after working 34 years as a decorated fire chief was fired from his job. Cortman added:

"We certainly thought that was an accurate admission in their position in the case but a dangerous one. Imagine telling people that you’re entitled to your own beliefs and opinions but you’re not entitled to share those beliefs and opinions with anybody else. Not only is that a Constitutional violation, but a dangerous proposition for the government to tell others what they cannot say to other folks."

Cochran has been a firefighter since 1981 and was appointed Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him as U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he returned to serve as Atlanta’s fire chief.

In January 2015, Cochran was fired after publishing and distributing a men’s devotional book for a Baptist church group. In the book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?,” Cochran addressed issues of homosexuality, gay marriage, and premarital sex from a biblical perspective.

Cochran gave his book to some of his subordinates and fellow employees, all of whom Cochran previously told The Daily Signal he had “established a prior relationship with as believers in Christ.” Eventually, according to court documents, a copy of the book made its way from an employee of the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department to City Councilmember Alex Wan, who is openly gay.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed subsequently suspended Cochran for 30 days without pay, stating, “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community.”

In a statement to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wan said, “I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but when you’re a city employee, and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.”

During his seven years as Atlanta’s fire chief, Cochran was never accused of discriminating against anyone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic.

Upon being fired, Cochran filed his own federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated and being discriminated against for his Christian beliefs.

Although Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suggested that Cochran’s suspension was a direct result of the book, his office now argues that the religious nature of the book “is not the reason he is no longer employed by the City of Atlanta.”

Reed’s office did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment, but in a previous statement, they said:

"The totality of his conduct—including the way he handled himself during his suspension after he agreed not to make public comments during the investigation—reflected poor judgment and failure to follow clearly defined work protocols."

On Wednesday, Judge Leigh Martin May for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia heard oral arguments relating to the city’s motion to dismiss the case, which will decide whether or not Cochran’s lawsuit will move forward.

Cortman, Cochran’s attorney, said he expects the judge to issue that ruling within the next two months.

“If she grants the motion to dismiss and dismisses the case, we would then appeal that decision to the 11th circuit court of appeals and we would argue that the judge made a legal mistake,” Cortman said.

Regarding Wednesday’s hearing, Cochran said in a statement, “All across our country, people of faith are finding themselves increasingly at risk of losing their jobs, their businesses, and more because certain segments of society find them and their beliefs intolerable.”


UK: Campaigners warn state regulation endangers press freedom and puts local papers at risk

Laws rushed through in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry pose the biggest threat to press freedom in modern times, a major report says.

The report, which is backed by the Free Speech Network and lawyers behind the Libel Reform Campaign, calls for the legislation to be scrapped.

The authors claim regulation would breach the right to freedom of expression and could deny justice in libel cases.

The study is the first comprehensive examination of the royal charter railroaded through Parliament in the wake of the 2012 Leveson report into press standards and ethics. The legislation was devised over pizza at 2am with the celebrity-backed anti-press group Hacked Off.

Entitled Leveson’s Illiberal Legacy, the report makes a devastating attack on the inquiry, saying it ‘quickly became a tool for a determined group of lobbyists to use regulation to erode press freedom’.

It states: ‘Many of the recommendations which emerged demonstrated a disregard for the importance of a free press and free speech, both of which are critical to uphold in a democratic society.’

Newspapers not signing up to a state-backed press regulator could face exemplary damages in court.

The rules, which could come into force as early as next month, will also make these papers liable to pick up the costs in libel cases even if they win. No newspaper – national or local – has agreed to the state-backed system – which would end more than 300 years of press freedom.

The report warns that the exposure of the MPs’ expenses scandal would have been impossible under the new regime.

The Daily Telegraph, which broke the story, would have had to contend with the possibility of all 650 MPs taking legal action even where they had no case to argue.

The ‘chilling effect’ of this threat would have proved an ‘enormous and a significant deterrent’ to publication, the authors say. There is also an ‘imminent danger’ to local newspapers, which can ill afford the system of mandatory arbitration.

The authors call for the repeal of the sections of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 that underpin the press regulation regime and the accompanying royal charter.

They also say that when the Tories bring forward a bill of rights later this year to replace the Human Rights Act it must guarantee free speech.

The report warns: ‘Action must be taken now to protect the freedom of the press. In November, the chilling legislation will start to bite and publishers will be less free to speak truth to power.’

In the foreword, Tim Luckhurst, a professor at the University of Kent, launched an attack on press regulation campaigners such as Hacked Off.

He said: ‘Please set aside any lingering delusion that the post-Leveson debate is a confrontation between sincere reformers and rich, selfish vested interests. That misrepresentation was always cynical.  ‘Today it serves only those who would exploit the victims of phone-hacking to promote a narrow ideology.’

The report highlights the global impact of a ‘noted democracy abandoning 300 years of self-regulation for the printed press with little parliamentary debate’.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who is facing criticism for police raids on opposition newspapers, has defended his actions with reference to the Leveson Inquiry. New press laws have also been passed in Sri Lanka.

The report was produced by press freedom group 89Up with financial support from Telegraph Media Group, News UK and DMG Media, publishers of the Daily Mail.

National newspapers, including the Mail, are now regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

It has the power to impose fines of up to £1million for serious and systemic wrongdoing and can require editors to publish up-front corrections. It is free of state involvement.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: